In recent years, many companies have moved to using e-mail as a primary method to mass communicate with clients as well as potential clients. There are a lot of really amazing services out there that allow you to collect, verify and maintain your “mailing list” – Constant Contact is what we used at my old landscaping company, and now I use Mail Chimp – it’s almost free and a GREAT web-based service that links up with my website here. For those of you that have ever asked for notifications from here, or have received my newsletter, you’ve been hit by the Chimp!
I believe there is a strategy that needs to be executed upon when communicating with your clients via an e-newsletter. I’ve helped a handful of folks determine the strategy, schedule and message in their online newsletters. It’s an extension of your brand, so if you’re doing it on your own, be careful what you “publish” to everyone out there on the good ‘ole WWW.
My thought is that you want to include relevant information to your industry, your clients, your team – all of which will tell the story of who you are and further develop the element of company culture. Personally, I don’t think that there should be a “Call to Action” (i.e. – 50% off through this Friday message) in an electronic newsletter – especially if you want sustainability in your list and want your subscribers to read it every time you publish it.
Recently, a friend forwarded me an e-newsletter from someone in the landscape industry. I’ll admit it – it was one of the most poorly written, borderline offensive, anti-brand, culture ripping emails I’ve read in a long time. I was really embarrassed for this company – which is why my friend sent it to me.
Here it is, then I’ll share with you my observations:
When I read this, honestly, I cringed. Here is what flew through my head:
- It was WAY too long – a lot of run on sentences
- It was not graphically pleasing (it was lime green with only two photos, thats it)
- It gave a lot of technical information – data that the client likely did not care about
- It had punctuation and grammar errors
- It had bad language, or what would be perceived as bad language to some
- It was not professional – seemed a bit too casual
- It was hard for me to take the author seriously – it seemed like something they wrote while drinking beer one night
- To me, it really didn’t give any direct take-aways
- It was all a sales letter to get you into their facility or to buy for them
What did you notice? What would you have done differently?
I used to have a client that used Constant Contact like it was going out of style. If you EVER emailed him for anything, he would enter you into his email list. It upset people, including a few people that I knew as they said something to me. “How did I get on THIS guys list?” – SO, make sure your list is pure if you choose to use email as a marketing avenue. That is one reason why I ask people to give me their business card at events – and I flat out tell them I will be sending them an email. Don’t spam. It will hurt your reputation more than help it.
This marketing medium can be HUGE if you take it seriously, make it look sexy, control your list, and do it infrequently (meaning, don’t send a message every day or multiple times a day)… Wow your clients with relevant information, tips and things that HELP them solve a problem, rather than one huge ad to do business with you.